Air India

UK Hotel Asks Air India Crews To Stop Stealing From Buffets

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The Times of India is reporting that a layover hotel used in the UK by Air India crews has sent the airline an email, informing them that some crews are allegedly bringing “to go” containers and taking food with them from the buffet. Per the article:

Titled, ‘A buffet is not a takeaway’, the warning note was sent on Monday by an assistant general manager (AGM) of the in-flight service department. It said: “We have received an unfortunate email from the management of hotel in London stating that some AI crew members regularly come down for breakfast with empty boxes into which they fill food items from the buffet, presumably to eat later.”

The letter warned that AI would be forced to take serious disciplinary action against the offenders, adding that “we are aware that this could be a very small minority indulging in such a behaviour”. “This may include, not being scheduled on international sectors, as we have no desire to allow the reputation of Air India to be tarnished by a handful of such individuals,” the note warned.

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Air India Adding Flights Between Delhi And Washington As Of July 2017

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Air India has expanded their U.S. route network very nicely over the past year or so. In December 2015, Air India launched a flight between Delhi and San Francisco, which is their furthest route yet. Then in the past few months they’ve doubled capacity on the route, as it has gone from operating 3x weekly to operating 6x weekly.

Then as of August 2016 they launched a flight between London and Newark, in the form of a one-stop flight from Ahmedabad to London to Newark.

This complements their existing U.S. service, which includes flights from Mumbai to Newark, Delhi to New York, and Delhi to Chicago.

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Air India Will Offer Special Seating To Solo Female Travelers

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Air India has just announced that they’ll begin holding seats for solo female travelers. While this is common for other forms of transportation in India, this is the first time I know of that an airline has offered such seating (through Japanese Airline All Nippon Airways offers onboard female lavatories).

Per The Hindu:

“We will soon reserve two rows (or six seats) for women passengers only,” Air India chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani told The Hindu . The airline will not be charging any additional fee for blocking such seats for women passengers.

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Air India’s London Heathrow Terminal Change Is Good News

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London Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 — also known as the “Queen’s Terminal,” opened in 2014. It’s the home to a vast majority of Star Alliance airlines at Heathrow, and is probably my favorite terminal at the airport.

For whatever reason, up until now Air India has continued to operate out of Terminal 4, which is one of the less-nice terminals at Heathrow. This has meant that Air India has maintained their own lounge at the airport, rather than being able to share it with other Star Alliance carriers. While the lounge is well intentioned, it’s not especially nice.

Earlier in the year Air India announced that they’d be switching terminals at London Heathrow to join their Star Alliance partners, and initially the goal was to make the move by September 2016. That didn’t happen, though the good news is that a date has now been set. Air India will be moving to Terminal 2 at London Heathrow as of January 25, 2017, per a notice posted on Air India’s website:

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Air India Now Operates The World’s Longest Routing (Sort Of)

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At 7,706 miles, Air India’s flight between Delhi and San Francisco is an ultra longhaul flight, though not quite the world’s longest flight (which is on Emirates between Dubai and Auckland, covering a distance of 8,824 miles).

I took Air India’s flight between Delhi and San Francisco earlier this year, and it sure was a longhaul, with a scheduled flight time of 16hr5min.

However, Air India is doing something in order to substantially decrease their flight time for the US-bound sector. Previously the flight from Delhi to San Francisco operated a polar route, meaning it flew near the North Pole.

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Air India Is Taking Over Pan Am’s Round The World Flight… Really?!?

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Sunday Guardian Live published an article yesterday about Air India with the headline “AI will fly around globe, emulate Pan Am’s feat.” Naturally I was intrigued!

Is Air India really going to operate a 10-stop round the world flight like Pan Am did? Well, unfortunately not. As a matter of fact, the article is so off base that it’s sort of amusing, and worth sharing. Per the article:

“Air India, the national carrier, is set to become the first airline after perhaps the now defunct Pan American World Airways that will operate a flight that would go around the globe. The Director General of Civil Aviation has granted permission to Air India to go from New Delhi via the Pacific route to San Francisco in the United States. However, on its return journey to New Delhi, the non-stop flight would undertake the path over the Atlantic, thus becoming the only airline in the world whose same aircraft would cover its entire journey by flying around the globe.”

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Indian Authorities Ban Pictures On Planes (Under Many Circumstances)

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There’s no denying that India has its fair share of aviation “stories,” ranging from an Air India pilot flying drunk three times in a row and not getting fired, to both pilots of an Air India flight leaving the cockpit to go take a nap in business class, leaving the flight attendants at the controls. I’ve never really understood why there isn’t more federal regulation of instances like this, given that the Director General of Civil Aviation frequently has some very strict rulings on more minor things.

For example, a couple of years ago SpiceJet was under fire because a crew performed a choreographed inflight dance as part of the Holi celebrations. The DGCA argued that this lowered the crew’s alertness, and that the dancing could have thrown off the plane’s center of gravity. Hmmm….

Well, the Indian Director General of Civil Aviation has just released a new Air Safety Circular, with the subject “Cockpit Visit on Ground.” Interestingly the decision largely has nothing to do with cockpit visits on the ground, but rather involves picture taking. Here’s the directive:

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Air India Will Now Punish Drunk Pilots… But Only For The Second Offense

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If there’s one airline that doesn’t seem too good at keeping their employees in check, it’s Air India. Last year there was the story of a drunk Air India pilot showing up at Sharjah Airport to operate a flight back to India. The worst part? It was the pilot’s third time getting caught drunk. If he got caught drunk flying that often, I can only imagine how many times he flew under the influence without anything happening.

Well it seems like Air India has had enough of pilots flying drunk (well, at least multiple times), and now has a formal punishment structure in place. Per India Live Today, Air India pilots caught drunk for the second time will now be punished heavily. The punishment? They’ll be grounded for three years, and then will have to be retrained, and they’ll have to pay for their schooling themselves.

On one hand it sort of blows my mind that they’re coming up with a punishment program for pilots caught drunk the second time. How about instead creating a punishment for pilots caught drunk the first time? Equally puzzling is that the “punishment” after the second time still gets them a route back into the cockpit on the same airline. That’s ridiculous.

Then again, given that there are pilots getting caught drunk three times without punishment, maybe this is an improvement?

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Air India More Than Doubles Capacity To San Francisco

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Last September, Air India announced that they would launch 3x weekly flights between Delhi and San Francisco as of December 2, 2015. This is Air India’s longest route, at 7,706 miles in each direction. While Air India’s other US flights (to Chicago, New York JFK, and Newark) are operated by 777-300ERs, the San Francisco flight is operated by a 777-200LR. This is a fairly sparsely configured aircraft, with just 238 seats.

I had the chance to fly the route in first class shortly after it launched, and was both impressed and disappointed by the product. The part that really impressed me was the incredible ground experience in Delhi, as well as the warmth of the crew working first class.

Anyway, I’ve been curious about how Air India is doing on their new route. Turning a profit on ultra longhaul flights can be very difficult even for a well run airline. Air India, on the other hand, has made horrible financial decision after horrible financial decision, so I think there’s a slightly different threshold for defining what makes an Air India route “successful.”

It looks like they’ve been doing quite well on the route, as Air India is planning on making their Delhi to San Francisco flight daily as of winter 2016. That’s some pretty major expansion on their part, especially for a flight as long as this one.

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Air India Will Start Flying Between London And Newark

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I love a good fifth freedom flight, where an airline from one country operates a flight between two other countries, where they have pick-up rights. These include flights like Cathay Pacific’s New York to Vancouver flight, Singapore Airlines’ New York to Frankfurt flight, SriLankan’s Hong Kong to Bangkok flight, etc.

The London to New York City market is a hyper-competitive one, and it looks like it’s about to see a new entrant.

According to The Times Of India, Air India will start flying between Ahmedabad and London, with a connecting fifth freedom flight to Newark, as of August 15, 2016.

The flight is scheduled to be operated 3x weekly by a Boeing 787-8, featuring 18 business class seats and 238 economy class seats.

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Air India Flight Delayed After Employee Refuses To Fly Economy

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Ah, Air India! The airline where a pilot who is caught drunk at work three times still has a job.

Here’s a fun story. An Air India flight between Delhi and Shanghai was delayed for two hours because an employee refused to fly economy. The maintenance engineer was traveling to Shanghai for work, and Air India has a policy where employees are confirmed in economy and get business class seats if available (at least for someone of his rank). Well, business class was full on this flight, which the guy wasn’t happy about.

Per The Economic Times:

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Air India Is Taking Their Rat Problem More Seriously… Or So They Claim…

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It’s sort of scary how often we hear stories about Air India flights being diverted due to rats onboard. For example, this past Saturday an Air India Boeing 787 bound from Melbourne to Delhi was diverted to Singapore after a rat was spotted onboard.

It might sound like a joke, or like something out of Samuel L Jackson’s “Snakes On A Plane” movie, but this actually has the potential to be very dangerous. It could be catastrophic if a rat bit through an aircraft’s wiring. It could lead to a loss of control, given that most planes have fly-by-wire technology nowadays.

Fortunately it looks like Air India is finally taking their rat problem seriously, including their chairman personally carrying out an inspection at Delhi Airport, and also instructing the staff on proper protocols (admittedly him carrying out an inspection was probably more symbolic than anything, since it’s probably not his area of expertise).

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Review: Air India First Class 777 Delhi To San Francisco

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As I was escorted onto the plane I was greeted by a guy who was standing on the jet bridge. At first I assumed he was an airport supervisor or something, given how much Air India seems to value this San Francisco flight. He introduced himself as Sandip, took my boarding pass, and escorted me to my seat, 2A. At it turns out, he was one of the senior first class crew!

Within a minute the cabin crew in charge, Havanda, came by to introduce herself and welcome me aboard. I could immediately tell this would be a very different flight than my previous one. Havanda was just so nice that it couldn’t help but put a smile on my face. She had one of those smiles which warms your heart, and such a soft presence and positive attitude.

Then a couple of minutes later the captain came by to add his welcome aboard as well. He was every bit as kind as Havanda and Sandip, and welcomed me aboard. He seemed proud of this new route, and even indicated he had worked the first ever Air India flight to San Francisco (“you can see me in the inflight magazine”). He also paid compliments to the cabin crew on the flight, indicating they would take great care of me, and that I was especially lucky, since they usually worked flights for the prime minister. For some reason I wasn’t surprised!

He explained the flight time, and how well this route was doing for Air India, given that every economy and business class seat was occupied. Captain Pais did the same thing for each first class passenger. Later in the flight I found out that he’s actually Air India’s general manager for customer service. Cool!!

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Review: Air India Lounge Delhi Airport

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In the last installment I shared my experience with Air India’s first class ground services in Delhi, so in this installment I’ll share my experience with the actual lounge, located in Terminal 3. This is Air India’s international lounge, and it’s located one level up from the main concourse, near the center of the terminal, and above a lot of duty free shopping.

The entire terminal is only a few years old, so even from the outside of the lounge you can tell that it’s fairly modern. There’s a pretty cool faux-wood exterior, with small “see through” sections.

As is the norm at Air India lounges, there was a Maharaja cutout waiting at the entrance.

The reception desk is located right as you walk into the lounge, with the first class section to the right and the business class section to the left.

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